Friday, 7 February 2014

An Inis Review

There's a simply beautiful review of Song Hunter by Fiona Kennedy in INIS magazine.

It can be found HERE.

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Carnegie Medal.

Well, this is a nice surprise: Song Hunter has been nominated for the Carnegie Medal.

That's not the philanthropic Andrew Carnegie medal for giving zillions to charity, but the United Kingdom CILIP outstanding children's book one.

It's a great honour, as well as a great surprise, and I'm really dead chuffed.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Review from the Historical Novel Society

HERE is a very kind review of Song Hunter.

It's on the Historical Novel Society website, and it's written by Elizabeth Hawsley.

It's lovely when, after a whole year's work, people read the book - and even better if they like it!

Friday, 27 September 2013

UKLA news.

I'm pleased and proud to announce that Song Hunter has been longlisted for the UK Literacy Awards.

It's sharing the list with some fine books and some fine writers.

Song Hunter is very happy to be among them.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013


I've been lucky enough to be asked to do an interview on the excellent prehistories blog.

If there's another blog where you can find the stories of prehistoric objects in graphic form, I don't know where it is.

All its many treasures can be found HERE.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

An arrow to the heart.

I arrived at the exhibition of Ice Age Art in the British Museum full of doubt.

I wanted to hear voices from far away, from down the long millennia; but I was afraid the ancient sculptures would be dumb and stiff and dead.

What did I see?

I saw the delicate step of a questing deer, the fierce low-thrust head of a goose, the arched neck of a proud horse, the massive threat of a bison's shoulders...

...and more, and more...

...the stillness and contemplative fragility of women huge with child; the smugness of a well-fed lion; the wide-eyed anxiety of a swimming reindeer.

Perhaps these things come from a time when all art was true. When all art was beautiful, honest, and yet still full of secrets.

Imagine a blade of flint perhaps 20 cm long but only 0.6 cm deep at its thickest part. Imagine the delicacy of it.

Imagine a flute made of a hollow bone, and then imagine music and singing and dancing.

Imagine a people 40,000 years away and yet close enough to feel their breath on your cheek.


On the way out of the museum we came across a table of treasures the public was allowed to hold. There was a Greek vase made 2,400 years ago; a piece of cuneiform writing (the oldest writing in the world) incised on clay; and a flint hand axe.

The axe was 350,000 years old.

350,000 years. Older than my species, then. Far older. It came from the time of the Neanderthals.

And, oh, but it was a fine thing, carefully made and effective.

Once more, the millennia melted away.


It's been an honour and a privelege to be able to spend a year in the company of Neanderthal man, but now it's time for me to make my way back to the present, to Homo sapiens and the world we've made for ourselves.

Many thanks to everyone who's visited this blog (especially to Adele Geras, who has made this blog immeasurably more interesting). I hope the story of our brother human beings has proved rewarding.

I may post the occasional update here, but from now on I shall be blogging chiefly at The Word Den. Further news about Song Hunter will be available from time to time at

May the world turn dazzlingly about you, and may you find a thousand songs of your own to sing,

Sally Prue

SONG HUNTER by Sally Prue. Oxford, 2013.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

The art of the Neanderthals.

Waiting for a book to be published always seems to take a long time, and the wait for SONG HUNTER to make it into print has been both long and anxious.

 A great deal of research is going on all the time. At any moment – at any moment -  someone might come up with a discovery which blows the principle behind SONG HUNTER clear out of the water.

 And sure enough...

 The thing is, a shell has been found in Spain. It does genuinely seem to have been used to mix up pigments, and it genuinely does have a hole in it as if for a pendant.

 So, can this be a sign that the Neanderthals had art after all?

 Well, yes, it can, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it must. Even if the hole was made on purpose then it might have been used to make carrying the shell easier, rather than as a decoration (my measuring spoons are tied together, for instance, but I don’t wear them to parties).

 As for the pigment (by which is meant ground-up rock or crumbled clay), yes this can be, and is still, used for painting; but it makes rather a good anti-insect coating for hides, too.

 But I’m still on tenterhooks, here, you know.